Microsoft confirms that it is indeed ready with a test version of the update, which will add native Blu-ray support, faster searching, and improved Bluetooth connectivity.
The next update to Windows Vista will enter beta testing next week, bringing with it support for Blu-ray drives, among other enhancements.
In a blog posting on Friday, Microsoft confirmed that a beta version of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 will be released next week.
"Because we've adopted a single serviceability model, these improvements are integrated into a single service pack covering both Windows Vista (client) and Windows Server 2008 (server) versions," Windows executive Mike Nash said in a blog. "This should also minimize deployment and testing complexity for our customers."
The software maker said earlier this week that it was working on Vista SP2, but wouldn't go into detail. A support document posted this month, however, suggested a beta version was in the offing.
In addition to Blu-ray, Vista SP2 will add support for Bluetooth 2.1 as well as include Windows Search 4.0, the latest version of Microsoft's desktop search technology.
Microsoft encouraged those thinking about upgrading to Vista not to wait for SP2, however.
"One question I know that you will ask is 'should I wait for SP2?'," Nash said. "The reality is that Windows Vista SP1 is a great platform that is both available on new Windows PCs and available as a free download for systems that are running the 'gold' release of Windows Vista. While we will recommend SP2 when it ships, your best bet today is Windows Vista SP1."
Update: Asked about when Microsoft might ship SP2, a representative responded that "it is too early to talk about SP2's final release date."
"As always, the final release date is based on quality and we will track customer and partner feedback from the beta program before setting a final date for distribution," the representative said.
The announcement comes ahead of next week's Professional Developer Conference, where Microsoft is expected to detail Windows 7, as well as give developers a pre-beta version.
Update 2:As noted by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, A Microsoft site says to expect the final Vista SP2 release in the first half of 2009.